There is no St. Patrick's Day dress today.

ebay item 6262747873

I don't care if this one IS green. I don't do St. Patrick's Day. When your name is Erin, you either embrace or avoid this Holy Day, and when your name is Erin and you don't drink? Avoid is the best and wisest choice. I do not wear green, I do not respond to calls of "go bragh," and if you kiss me because I'm "Irish," I will probably knee you in the groin. Just a friendy warning.

Anyway, enough of what is not. What is? A midriff band, that's what. Although I suppose this is really more of an empire line. It's hard to make out, but click on the image to go to the ebay auction, because the seller also scanned the back of the envelope (I love people who do that) and you can see the lines better that way. It's got four days to run (and, at this writing, only one bid). B34.

It's by Simonetta of Italy; I have several of her later patterns, but none really stand out to me. I'd be interested to learn more about her … for vintage, this dress looks really modern to me (not so much the cape, obviously).

Search Over.

ebay item 8305987417
You know, last week, how we were talking about our ideal Oscar dresses? I think (thanks to Helen, who sent me the the link to this site) I found mine.

Wouldn't this be stunning in a true garnet red, with antique garnet jewelry (or, of course, one enormous ruby pinned right at the deepest point of the neckline)? It would also be fabulous in a Pucci-esque print, for maximum craziness. And, of course, I'd put pockets in it.

I'm not quite buying this yet, for several reasons. For one, there's a better-than-average chance that, in order to BE a glamorous movie star attending the Oscars, I would have to be at least a size or two smaller than I am now. So there's no point buying this now, in my actual size. (Ha.) Another is that it's $32, which is slightly too much for me to pay for a theoretical gown for a theoretical event, no matter how gorgeous it is.

The site, Paper Pursuits, is mainly a magazine-and-print ephemera site, but they have tons of Vogue Designer patterns, mostly from the 1960s. They *only* sell Vogue Designers.

The only thing I don't like about this picture is how the photographic model looks as if she's just dropped some popcorn in her cleavage and is unsure how she's going to get it out. Do they let you eat popcorn at the Oscars?

This is your countermission.

Gaultier Spring 2006

I don't know who the costume designer for ALIAS is, (okay — wait, thanks to Google, now I do. Laura Goldsmith). Anyway, Laura needs to take a look at the Spring 2006 Gaultier couture collection, because doesn't this dress look like Sydney Bristow is about to open up a giant-economy-size can of whup-ass on some baddie? Preferably just seconds after picking up a champagne flute?

Actually, now that I look at it again, perhaps it is not quite tight enough or garish enough or made of enough pleather to qualify as an "undercover" outfit on ALIAS. Although it's certainly eyecatching enough.)

ALIAS dress

ALIAS dress

It's certainly an interesting confluence. So many of the high-fashion collections seemed to be aimed at amazingly-fit superspies, yet so few of us actually ARE amazingly-fit superspies! Luckily, amazingly-fit superspies seem to need a LOT of changes of clothing.


I'm now roughly ten days behind in answering comments, and there is no point at which I think I'll be caught up, so if it was something important, or even unimportant but funny, email me, okay?

Helen very kindly sent me a nice picture of her skirt made from a William Morris tablecloth, and it's lovely. She says it's Burda 8677 (and, woman after my own heart, says she also has made "a turquoise with white spots and white piping, a plain purple taffeta, a burgundy with gold sequins, a red stripe yoke with red roses skirt, a linen with woven rainbow stripe, a blue and brown wool tartan that i've altered into a puffball, a red linen with vintage embroidered trim, a denim with pink net underskirt,[and] a black with rockin' robins print.") Wow!

I think there are also several people to whom or for whom I promised suggestions or advice of various (although all dress-related) kinds; if you are one of the unlucky people languishing at the bottom of my email inbox, feel free to send me a reminder!

Bill Blass for Spring

Bill Blass Spring 2006

Msbelle sent me a link to this dress (thank you!). I like it a great deal, although of course I'd make some changes. Like, those sleeve ties have to go. And, like Msbelle, I'd like it slightly longer, although, of course, on anyone not six feet tall, it would be. Probably the most appealing part about it is the print, which is near enough to Liberty to make no difference. I swear, you could do up anything short of a halter-topped hotpants-jumpsuit in Liberty and I'd be there going "ooooh, pretty!"

This dress, from the same collection, also caught my eye:

Bill Blass Spring 2006

Now, the model desperately needs a bra (I know they don't have time to switch undergarments between trips down the catwalk, but sheesh, maybe for this one they could have made an exception, or put it on a different person?) and it's oddly shaped on her even taking that into account, but something about this calls to me. And I'm not usually an epaulettes person, unless they are on Horatio Hornblower, but somehow the shoulder treatment here works.

This dress would be better on (dare I say it!) Sienna Miller, or Kate Moss, or someone slightly smaller than this particular model. This would be lovely for some 1920s-themed party, with bronze satin round-toed mary jane shoes and a brass cigarette case as a purse. (I would probably take off the belt.)

There are lots of other interesting prints in this collection, which seems to see-saw desperately between Palm Beach and the fundraising season in New York (much like many of the label's clients). Ah, well, if it were better themed this particular dress wouldn't have shown up, and that would be a loss.

from Are Clothes Necessary?

Most people allow themselves to see the past only in the current romantic-patriotic de luxe edition of moving pictures and best-sellers. A more realistic approach is needed for a true comprehension of the dress characteristics of past periods. For instance, the clothing-minded should have a more critical view of that period which loving nostalgia named the Gay Nineties. It was a climax of elegance and savoir vivre, a time of prosperity and majestically sweeping female dresses. The following snapshot is handed down to us by the observer of a trifling incident: A lady, attired in a dress with a train that answered the dictum of fashion, boarded a cab after a short walk and left on the curbstone the rubbish she had collected while sweeping the street. The onlooker, without doubt an analytical-minded person, made this inventory of the refuse:

  • 2 cigar ends
  • 9 cigarette do
  • A portion of pork pie
  • 4 toothpicks
  • 2 hairpins
  • 1 stem of a clay pipe
  • 3 fragments of orange peel
  • 1 slice of cat's meat
  • Half a sole of a boot
  • 1 plug of tobacco (chewed)
  • straw, mud, scraps of paper, and miscellaneous street refuse, ad.lib.

A still-life of less prosaic nature was painted by one Dr. Casagrandi in 1900. Reading a paper before the medical association in Rome, he reported on his bateriological examinations of trailing skirts, for which experiments he had employed a number of women to walk for one hour through the city streets. To his satisfaction he found large colonies of germs including those of tuberculosis, typhoid fever, tetanus and influenza, not to mention lesser bacilli, all of which were represented on each skirt.

from Are Clothes Necessary? by Bernard Rudofsky (Paul Theobald 1947).

And again.

ebay item 6261521104 simplicity 1953
This is from the ebay store of The Pattern Fairy, although, really, wouldn't you think that someone called The Pattern Fairy would magically have all their patterns in your size? This midriff-wonder (which I want desperately, and would buy if it were any bigger than B32) is only $9.50 including shipping. Click on the image to buy it if you're B32.

There oughta be a law, or at least a very stern suggestion, that pattern companies should not be able to use pattern numbers beginning in 19-. Because: searching for "Simplicity 1953", to see if I can get it in a bigger size? Not so helpful. Simplicity put out a LOT of patterns in 1953, and this wasn't even one of them, as far as I can tell.

If this pattern were mine I'd do that nice deep gray full-skirted version with pale-blue piping along the seams and as the tab. I also can see this in red gingham, although, really, there's very little I can't see in red gingham, or even better, brown gingham. I love brown gingham. I've probably made three different brown gingham dresses in the last 20 years and I have another one planned as soon as I sew through the worst of the backlog around here (although that might be another 20 years). Luckily brown gingham is timeless.

Another reason I should have this dress? I carry my handbag like that all the time. Why isn't this a few inches bigger, Pattern Fairy?